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Drivers fined after fake 50mph speed limit sign placed in 40mph zone in Sidcup | UK News

Hundreds of drivers are said to have been wrongly fined after a fake 50mph sign was placed in a 40mph speed zone – but the Metropolitan Police has said the fines are still “within the law”.

The sign was erected on the A20 in Sidcup, southeast London.

Transport for London reduced the speed limit on the road last year “in response to a number of incidents caused by ongoing flooding issues”.

The Met said it has now launched an investigation into the incident as an attempt to “pervert the court of justice”.

But the force said it is satisfied the fines issued are “within the law” as there were several other 40mph speed signs in the area.

Dominic Smith, director at Patterson Law, a firm that specialises in motoring offences, said he has never “seen anything quite like this, on this magnitude”.

He added: “We’ve been contacted in the last week by about 400 or 500 individuals, of which about 100 to 150 are at risk of losing their licences because of this.

“Usually when a new speed camera goes up, we can tell here because we get maybe about two or three enquiries a day for a couple of days – 40 to 50 a day we’re getting at the moment. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

A Transport for London (TfL) spokesperson said: “For a short period, an incorrect 50mph sign was illegally placed at one location on the road by somebody who had not been authorised by TfL to place it here, putting people travelling at risk.

“This was immediately replaced with the correct 40mph signage. All other signage is correct and compliant with the regulations.”

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The spokesperson added: “Safety is our number one priority and we temporarily introduced a 40mph speed limit on the A20 Sidcup Road in response to a number of incidents caused by ongoing flooding issues, which could have posed a risk to life.

“It is important that people follow the new speed limit to ensure that everyone can travel safely along this road and safety camera enforcement is a vital part of this.

“We want to ensure that all drivers are treated fairly and new, regular speed limit signage, compliant with all traffic sign regulations, was installed to ensure that everyone driving here is aware of the new limit.”

Secondary school pupils to be able to complete a GCSE in sign language from 2025 | UK News

Secondary school pupils could be able to take a GCSE in British Sign Language (BSL) from 2025 after the subject content was finalised.

Parents, teachers, and the deaf and hearing communities took part in a 12-week consultation on the content of the GCSE.

The government is aiming to have exam board syllabuses approved for the new qualification from September 2025.

It will teach students how to sign effectively using BSL, and it will give them an understanding of the history of sign language in the UK, the Department for Education (DfE) said.

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said: “Studying BSL can open so many doors for young people, giving pupils an understanding of how thousands of people communicate and ultimately even expanding job prospects.

“This new qualification will not only break down barriers and give young people valuable new skills, but also celebrate the history and rich culture of BSL.”

In 2018, the government said it would consider introducing a GCSE in BSL after deaf schoolboy Daniel Jillings campaigned for the new qualification and his family launched a legal challenge to get one instated as quickly as possible.

It is understood the development of the GCSE was delayed due to the pandemic.

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Michael Hanton, deputy chief regulator of Ofqual, said: “We’re grateful to those who engaged with our consultation, which was a crucial step forward for this new and important qualification.

“We will now begin the detailed regulatory work to ensure that the new GCSE in British Sign Language will be high quality and fair for students.”

Susan Daniels, chief executive of the National Deaf Children’s Society, said: “After more than a decade of campaigning for a GCSE in BSL we’re delighted we now have the finalised course content published.

“A GCSE in BSL is vital as it will break down barriers and celebrate the rich culture and history of British Sign Language.

“An incredible amount of work has been undertaken to get to this point, not least from young deaf campaigner Daniel Jillings who fought so hard for the right to study a GCSE in BSL.”

Home Secretary James Cleverly heads to Rwanda to sign new asylum treaty | Politics News

James Cleverly is travelling to Rwanda to sign a new treaty for the government’s asylum plan.

It is part of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s mission to make the deal to send migrants there legally watertight following the Supreme Court’s ruling against the scheme.

In the wake of the judgement on 15 November the government insisted it had been working on contingency measures and promised a treaty with Rwanda within days, along with emergency legislation in parliament.

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Mr Cleverly said Rwanda “cares deeply about the rights of refugees” and he looks forward to meeting counterparts and signing the deal.

The home secretary said: “We are clear that Rwanda is a safe country, and we are working at pace to move forward with this partnership to stop the boats and save lives.

“The Supreme Court recognised that changes may be delivered in future to address the conclusions they reached – and that is what we have set out to do together, with this new, internationally recognised treaty agreement.

“Rwanda cares deeply about the rights of refugees, and I look forward to meeting with counterparts to sign this agreement and further discuss how we work together to tackle the global challenge of illegal migration.”

There has been speculation Rwanda is pushing to get more money on top of the £140m already committed to the scheme.

The Sunday Times reported Kigali will be given a £15m top-up payment to agree fresh terms on its agreement with the UK.

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Rwanda map

Mr Sunak met Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame on the sidelines of the COP28 climate talks in Dubai on Friday, but declined afterwards to say how much more money he would spend to make the scheme a success.

Downing Street insisted there had been no demand for extra money from Rwanda, with the prime minister’s official spokesman saying: “Certainly I don’t recognise that figure of £15m, there’s been no request for additional funding for the treaty made by Rwanda, or not offered by the UK government.”

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Cleverly announces immigration plan

It comes after Mr Cleverly laid out his five-point plan to cut immigration, which included banning care workers from bringing their families over to the UK and raising the minimum salary required for a skilled worker visa.

Under his five-point plan, Mr Cleverly said he will:

• Stop health and care workers bringing their dependants to the UK;

• Increase the skilled worker earnings threshold by a third to £38,700, in line with the median full-time wage;

• Scrap “cut-price” labour by stopping shortage occupations being able to pay 20% less than the going rate and reforming the shortage occupation list;

• Raise the minimum income for family visas to £38,700 from £26,200 from next spring; and

• Ensure the Migration Advisory Committee reviews the graduate immigration route to prevent abuse.

He said the government would also increase the health surcharge this year by 66%, from £624 to £1,035.

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Mr Cleverly said around 120,000 dependants accompanied 100,000 care workers in the year up to September.

“In total, this package, plus our reduction in students dependants will mean around 300,000 fewer people will come in future years than have come to the UK last year,” he told MPs.

Windsor Framework: UK and EU to sign off on new Brexit deal – despite DUP opposition | Politics News

UK and EU officials will sign off on a new Brexit deal in London today, despite ongoing opposition from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

The Windsor Framework – designed to address problems with the post-Brexit Northern Ireland Protocol – was agreed by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen last month.

The plan was symbolically approved in the Commons earlier this week by a large margin after a vote on one of its elements – the Stormont brake – as well as getting the nod from the Council of the EU.

The Stormont brake is a mechanism that aims to allow assembly members to flag their concerns about changes to or introductions of new EU legislation that will affect the region, giving the UK government the option to veto them.

The DUP and some prominent Tory Brexiteers – including Boris Johnson and Liz Truss – voted against the deal, saying they still had concerns about EU law taking precedence in Northern Ireland.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson – whose party has refused to form an executive in Northern Ireland until the protocol, negotiated by Mr Johnson, was ditched – has said the new policy is unlikely to lead his party back into a power-sharing agreement in Stormont.

However, in a release ahead of the meeting, the government said the UK and EU had “fundamentally changed the old protocol, fixing the practical problems and securing a new way forward for a prosperous, stable future for Northern Ireland”.

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Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said the framework would deliver on the government’s commitment “to provide stability and certainty” for the region.

“The framework is the best deal for Northern Ireland, safeguarding its place in the Union and protecting the Belfast [Good Friday] Agreement,” he added.

Mr Cleverly will give formal approval to the framework today alongside the European Commission’s Maros Sefcovic.

Christmas preparations on the Isle of Man – but there’s no sign of Michelle Mone at her luxury home | Business News

She is no stranger to the spotlight. A book deal, regular television appearances and a prolific presence on Instagram, all part of a carefully crafted public image that helped Michelle Mone secure a peerage in 2015.

Yet, Baroness Mone – or “Lady M” as she often refers to herself – has been keeping a low profile in recent weeks.

A series of damaging allegations have thrust the lingerie entrepreneur and Conservative peer into the centre of an alleged scandal that is engulfing the House of Lords.

She is accused of attempting to “bully and hector” ministers into awarding public PPE contracts worth more than £200m to a company called PPE Medpro during the pandemic and of profiting from the deal – a claim she strongly denies.

Having now taken a leave of absence from the House of Lords, Lady Mone says she wants to clear her name but she has been noticeably quiet so far.

On the Isle of Man, at the 154 acre-estate she shares with her husband Douglas Barrowman, preparations are under way for the festive period.

Christmas trees, wreaths and decorations adorn the home, but staff – who have been told not to speak to journalists – insist they have no idea where the couple are.

It’s a peaceful corner of the island and the gated property may offer Mone some refuge from the growing scandal – but the issue is not going away any time soon.

The House of Lords is looking into whether Mone broke any rules and the National Crime Agency has launched a fraud investigation into PPE Medpro, whose gowns were unusable because they failed NHS checks.

A number of official reports will follow but Lady Mone’s representatives have described it as a “witch hunt”.

At the centre of the storm is Michelle and her husband Douglas. According to files compiled by HSBC, which were first obtained by The Guardian, accounts linked to Barrowman, and later Mone, received millions of pounds in transfers from PPE Medpro.

Michelle Mone is admitted to the House of Lords as Baroness Mone of Mayfair, after being made a Tory peer.
Image:
Michelle Mone is admitted to the House of Lords as Baroness Mone of Mayfair, after being made a Tory peer

Another leaked document lists PPE Medpro as an “entity” of Barrowman’s family office, the Knox family office on the Isle of Man.

It was prepared by Anthony Page, a finance director at one of its trusts and the registered owner of PPE Medpro.

At his home in the centre of the Isle, Mr Page was keeping a low profile.

He refused to speak when Sky News approached him for an interview.

Neighbours described him as “a very pleasant family man” and said they were surprised by the news of his involvement in the scandal.

Situation needs ‘proper investigation’

Residents told us that news usually travels fast on the Isle of Man, but there was a sense of resignation about the latest revelations. A feeling that this is just another Westminster scandal.

Frank Schuengel, a councillor for Douglas South Ward, said: “It’s a big topic in the UK, probably more there (than here) because we don’t have a House of Lords. It’s not applicable, we have our own government.

“It’s not the kind of politics that I would personally do but I’m sure there will be processes and investigations.

“It’s a shame whenever someone doesn’t act in a way that you would wish all politicians to act.

“But I think it’s being investigated and if something is not right, one would hope that any investigation would uncover that.”

Baroness Mone (centre) ahead of the State Opening of Parliament by Queen Elizabeth II, in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster in London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 21, 2017. See PA story POLITICS Speech. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Image:
Baroness Mone (centre) ahead of the state opening of parliament by Queen Elizabeth II in 2017

Some wanted to avoid jumping to conclusions before investigations are completed, but others had already made up their minds.

On Strand Street, the main shopping high street in Douglas, one local resident said: “It is disappointing. I think that anybody that does that kind of thing just isn’t really a moral person. So, it’s a bad example. Hopefully more will come to light.”

Another added: “I just think it’s awful. There were a lot of irregularities surrounding all the PPE supplies during the pandemic. As far as Michelle Mone is concerned… and the situation around it, I think needs proper investigation.”

‘Corruption at the highest levels’

Mone’s lawyers claim she only made the “simple, solitary and brief step,” of referring the company to the government.

They insist she and her husband, Douglas, had no involvement in PPE Medpro, nor did they play any role in the process through which it was awarded its government contract.

Baroness Michelle Mone attends the State Opening of Parliament in 2019.
Image:
Baroness Michelle Mone attends the state opening of parliament in 2019

That was before a series of damaging emails appeared to show her pressuring ministers to award PPE Medpro government contracts.

At the height of the pandemic, she wrote to the then health secretary Matt Hancock, allegedly saying: “I am going to blow this all wide open.

“I smell a rat here. It’s more than the usual red tape, incompetence and bureaucracy. That’s expected! I believe there is corruption here at the highest levels and a cover up is taking place… Don’t say I didn’t warn you when Panorama or Horizon run an exposé documentary on all this.

“I say a level playing field for all.”

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PPE Medpro was later awarded two contracts worth more than £200m without tender. The entire process is now coming under intense scrutiny.

Lady Mone foresaw the this – but she probably didn’t expect to be at the centre of it all.